In sophisticated sharp lines and subtle silks, Jules Kim puts her confident, womanly sexuality front-and-center. Though the jewelry designer's customers include Bad Gal Ri Ri, Jules is a consummate supporter of small brands. You won't see the Richmond, Virginia exile striding around in Gap or Uggs. Tough business and no bullshit, Jules has daggers tattooed on her arms, mouse bones on her fingers, and a closet of black and, for when she steps out of her comfort zone, white. Confrontations are Jules' conversation starters, and when people ask her to smile more the over-the-knee boot spitfire replies: "Why don't you give me a reason?"
No one needs to to tell Future Project "Dream Director" Joyce Gendler to smile more. In an "Alaskan Cool" sweater, floral dresses, and an endless rainbow of printed headscarves, the wide-eyed teacher doesn't care about what's on the Lincoln Center runways or what's going down in the underground nightlife/art world. For the girl who used to roll around in paint with her mom, colorful thrift store finds and polka-dot Gap khakis are all that's needed for Joyce tell to the world: "It's OK to come and talk to me." As friendly and warm as her pink-and-white dress, this educator isn't putting on front-row airs, she's doing all that she can to help a student stand up and read in front of the class for the very first time.
When I forced Joyce and Jules to exchange their closets, Joyce took one look at Jules's S&M leather-strapped necklace and bemoaned: "This doesn't say wholesome to me." Go to 7:59 to see Joyce make noises that I didn't know a person could make as she takes in Jules' black netted booties and amorphous earring (or is a ring?). But the shock gave way to curiosity, as the self-assured innocent grew intrigued by Jules' empresses tiara and sultry cutout black top. Her friends told her that she looked "damn girl," (10:40) and her boss said that she would've been more likely to hire her because the kids would think she's cool (17:10). "I find comfort & sexiness in being myself," Joyce told me on the stairwell near the end of her Second Skin experience. "But it was interesting to be overtly sexy and to see how people responded. Moving forward, maybe I should go more for sexy" (20:10).
In Joyce's bright skirt, signature floral headband, turquoise sunglasses, and white sneakers, Jules didn't flinch. Even though she felt more like her cutesy twin sister than her refined self, I was in shock over Jules' serenity. Gone for the entire summer, Jules attended a welcome home party, and her friends, unaware that she was in Second Skin, thought her European travels had made her style "more Italian." "Who's that bitch with that thing on her head?" one friend asked at 15:50. "That's not Jules." But Jules didn't feel the need to defend the absence of black to her friends. Even when someone asked her if she was a hippie from San Fran, Jules, due to her unheard of supply of confidence, held onto to her cool and her identity. As Jules told me at the conclusion of the day, "Being in a different style isn't going to change who I am on the inside. My confidence isn't something I wear -- it's real" (21:17).
In almost all of the previous Second Skins, there's been moments when I was certain that the girls would slap me. But Joyce's and Jules' willingness to immerse themselves into each other's styles with minimal snark made this one of the least stressful Second Skins I've experienced bar-none. Unfazed by Joyce's warmhearted garments, Jules showed what my mom and I have been saying all along: style is the person underneath the clothes. As for Joyce, her willingness to embody Jules' cultivated closet showed the liberty that we can achieve when we cast aside our style prejudices. I, for one, won't be surprised if I see Joyce in a sleek black number sometime in the near future.
Stayed tuned for our next Second Skin on Monday!
Video edited by Shane O'Neil
Music by Draemings, Unisex Salon, & Electro